QUESTION OF: The question of government digital surveillance of the population.


CO-SUBMITTERS:Bangladesh, Chile, Qatar, ITALY.



Recalling the previous resolution of the United Nations on the issue of the surveillance of the population and the right to privacy, namely the General Assembly resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age (A/RES/68/167),

Guided by the rights expressed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights regarding the right to privacy,

Aware of the beneficial results the responsible use of digital surveillance can have, including when used for activities aiming to ensure international peace and security, such as for counter-terrorism or national security purposes,

  1. Asks the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) to establish a team of experts to evaluate the existing regulations of Member States on the digital surveillance of the population, which will:
    1. be comprised of representatives from relevant UN agencies, in addition to OHCHR, such as but not limited to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) and will focus on the issues raised in the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights presented in the twenty-seventh session of the Human Rights Council, pursuant to the General Assembly resolution A/RES/68/167 on the mass surveillance of the population and the protection of the right to privacy and will share its findings with Member States to be used in improving the existing regulations or implementations
    2. work in cooperation with willing Member States to conduct its investigation on the laws and regulations of the Member State on digital surveillance and any other information provided on the implementation of these regulations, such as but not limited to:
      1. the obligations of telecommunications or internet service provider companies to store, supply, or analyze data collected on consumers
      2. the situations in which it is accepted legal for the Member State to gather or analyze data on its citizens, such as for national security purposes, and the action the law enforcement agencies of the Member State, can take based on the information obtained
      3. national digital ID schemes and their benefits for public safety and concerns regarding the security of the information storage
      4. the scope of the regulations, including whether the regulations on digital surveillance apply to extraterritorial surveillance or to non-citizens
      5. the compliance of the laws and regulations of the Member State with the treaties the Member State is a party to, such as but not limited to the ICCPR
      6. the transparency laws regarding the responsibility of the Member State on informing its citizens about digital surveillance
    3. oversee the continuation of the occurrence of the expert workshops on digital surveillance in the digital age, previously organized by the OHCHR on 19-20 February 2018, in different regions around the world to increase the involvement of different Member States and organizations;
  2. Endorses the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee (UNCTC) to outline guidelines on the use of surveillance for counter-terrorism and national security which will:
    1. be prepared by a sub-committee organized under UNCTC and will include experts from UNIDIR which will review the regulations and country policies concerning digital surveillance based on the information provided by the OHCHR report to be published pursuant to clause 1 and will focus on the use of different tools of surveillance for the purpose of gathering intelligence on terrorism or national security such as but not limited to:
      1. use of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras to monitor public spaces, including face recognition technologies, and their use to assist law enforcement officers
      2. use of personal communications data and metadata to identify potential targets for counter-terrorism and to locate them
      3. Member States tracking the social media posts and other online activities of their citizens to identify potential threats or terrorism-related content, and the measures that can be taken to prevent the wrongful investigation of persons based on posts with dissenting ideas, which will be established in cooperation with experts
    2. will include advice on preserving civil rights of the population and maintaining minimum interference with the privacy of the individuals while ensuring the appropriate use of the digital surveillance tools available to governments for an effective counter-terrorism strategy through:
      1. recommendation on improvements that can be made to legislations to avoid human rights violations, wrongful arrests, or unwarranted violation of privacy
      2. providing regular updates to Member States on the recent technological developments or implementations of digital surveillance so that Member States are informed of possible threats or cases of the misuse of these technologies;
  3. Calls upon Member States to be conscious of the discriminatory practices that can result from the use of digital surveillance technologies and to take measures to prevent deliberate or unintentional racial profiling by:
    1. aiming to implement the recommendations made in the General Recommendation No. 36 of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), especially those concerning the use of artificial intelligence and algorithmic profiling and determining the types of information that cannot be collected on people on the grounds that it violates their privacy or could result in unjust treatment by law enforcement agencies and establishing a committee that will be responsible for supervising the use of digital surveillance tools to prevent discriminatory practices by:
      1. investigating claims by citizens, if there are any, of surveillance or unwarranted investigations that may be related to discriminatory practices
      2. working with experts to identify the ways in which the technology could be improved to avoid discriminatory surveillance
      3. ensuring that the data used in the surveillance systems do not violate the regulations on the information of citizens that can be obtained or stored
      4. informing the people about the possibility of racial profiling in digital surveillance and their rights in such a situation
    2. supporting research and development programmes on the algorithmic profiling that can result from the use of surveillance technologies in a way that causes discrimination towards people from different groups, such as but not limited to race, gender, or political affiliation and organizing training programs for law enforcement officers which will aim to provide them with the relevant information on the functioning of surveillance technologies, and being aware use of surveillance technologies that can result in discrimination against certain groups;
  4. Further requests the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) to assist Member States on the process regarding the sharing of the data gathered using digital surveillance by:
    1. supporting the establishment of information sharing frameworks under different regional organizations with the purpose of the Member States voluntarily assisting each other on counter-terrorism and criminal justice investigations when it is determined to be necessary for international peace or the security of the citizens of a Member State, which will:
      1. be for sharing digital surveillance information on individuals that are the subject of criminal investigations in a Member State
      2. use INTERPOL’s support to train criminal justice officers on the best practice for responsible digital surveillance methods, with special attention to minimizing interference with the privacy of other citizens and preventing arbitrary surveillance
      3. use the support provided by the United Nations Police, especially in post-conflict zones and regions with armed conflict, where such forces are present
      4. have the supervision of INTERPOL and will aim to prevent the sharing of aggregate information on citizens between Member States in a way that violates the legislation of a country regarding the right to privacy
    2. providing capacity-building support to ensure the security of the information storage and sharing systems and the prevention of data breaches to the systems used for international cooperation on criminal justice, and organizing events or training programmes on cybersecurity, in particular regarding the protection of the data collected from the citizens, similar to the INTERPOL Digital Security Challenge;
  5. Urges the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to work in cooperation with Member States on the use of surveillance technologies for border security and near refugee camps by:
    1. communicating with the field personnel of the UNHCR or NGOs working on issues related to refugees in order to gather information on the digital surveillance of refugees by the government in order to:
      1. evaluate the effects border monitoring technologies may have on the safety of asylum seekers, and whether the increased monitoring results in a change of the routes they take
      2. the surveillance of refugee camps and the use of the data obtained on the refugees
      3. informing the refugees of any surveillance that takes place in detention centres
    2. asking Member States to evaluate the effects of surveillance technologies on asylum seekers and refugees and take action to minimize the detrimental effects to these groups by:
      1. modifying their methods or technologies, if necessary, to ensure that the digital surveillance of the refugees respects the rights of refugees per the Refugee Convention of 1951
      2. taking the necessary measures to determine the changes in the routes of asylum seekers due to surveillance and cooperating with UNHCR to mitigate the risks resulting from the use of these routes
      3. taking into account the recommendations of UNHCR and the opinion of citizens living near refugee camps or borders if the surveillance also affects these communities
    3. implementing responsible digital surveillance technologies when necessary for the monitoring activities of UNHCR or other organizations regarding the implementation of treaties concerning refugees or asylum seekers and to ensure international security by:
      1. keeping track of the number of detainees, the dates in which they arrived at the detention centre and whether their refugee status have been determined to prevent prolonged or indefinite detentions
      2. monitoring the facilities and the detainee-staff ratio in detention centres to address, in a timely manner, a lack of capacity in detention centres to ensure humane living conditions for detainees
      3. ensuring that the data collected by UNHCR complies with the Principles of Personal Data Protection and Privacy adopted by the High-Level Committee on Management (HLCM) regarding the information storage by and sharing between UN organizations
      4. implementing the Border and Security Management (BSM) Programme in conflict zones, in cooperation with the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), and ensuring that the digital surveillance and the sharing of the data obtained is in accordance with the Security Council resolution 2396
      5. monitoring to prevent the recruitment of refugees or asylum seekers by non-state actors, especially in areas with armed conflict;
  6. Recommends the Member States that are determined by the UNIDIR to be successful in implementing the guidelines on the use of digital surveillance for counter-terrorism purposes, as outlined in clause 3 to support other Member States on the use of surveillance, which will:
    1. take place if both Member States are willing to work together and achieve consensus on the implementation of the programme, which will be under the supervision of UNIDIR will ensure that the Member State providing support on the use of surveillance for counter-terrorism does not violate the sovereignty of the other Member State or illegally obtain information on the digital surveillance technology or counter-terrorism activities of the Member State
    2. focus on providing support regarding the techniques the Member State uses to obtain intelligence on terrorism activities, including:
      1. engaging in international cooperation between the relevant organization of the UN, or other Member States for exchanging information on terrorism or international crime in accordance with the legal instruments on counter-terrorism, such as but not limited to the 1999 International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism
      2. organizational changes the Member State has made in state agencies working on digital surveillance to ensure accordance with the guidelines of UNIDIR
      3. capacity-building activities to support Member States that are experiencing difficulties due to inadequate technological equipment;
  7. Further encourages Member States to support activities to inform the citizens on their rights related to digital surveillance and the usage of their data collected on them, such as but not limited to:
    1. the ways in which the government can collect and use digital data on them and the information that is considered legally admissible in criminal investigations, and the benefits the responsible use of surveillance can have for ensuring national security and international peace, including the international treaties the Member State recognizes and the responsibilities of the Member State, in accordance with the international law to ensure the rights of its citizens when using digital surveillance
    2. their rights and responsibilities on notifying a state agency if they believe there is a misuse of their data under the legislation of the Member State, such as but not limited to:
      1. the misuse of the data collected on a person by personnel of a state agency in a way that violates the privacy of the individual
      2. actions with the intention of causing a data breach or damages the integrity of information.